Getting your kids to open up and actually talk over the dinner table can seem like a monumental feat. Help the conversation flow with advice from Jeanne Muchnick, 'America's Dinner Mom.' What scares you most: figuring out what's for dinner, or figuring out how to get your children to open up and give you more than "I don't know" or "Fine" when you try to start a conversation? The bottom line: We need to slow down and show our kids we are listening to them. Fork it over. Take a fork, tie a ribbon around it, and call it the "talking fork" (a big serving fork is good for dramatic effect). Before everyone leaves the table, they need to own the fork and tell a story. Have a bowl-a-thon. Literally place a bowl or other container in a central part of the house (the kitchen or dining room table perhaps?) and encourage family members to put items in there for discussion later. Be creative with your questions. Be honest, and show your flaws. Try family-neutral topics. ...instead of focusing on one particular family member or topic. Talk sports. Bring up the past. Stay connected. Don't nag. The dinner table is not a time to ask your child about homework. It's also not the time for you and your husband to discuss work. Respect when a child doesn't want to talk, but remind her she still has to sit at the table.
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